Thursday, February 26, 2009

Small Missions and Accountability

There are about 440 Protestant mission organizations in Canada and the USA where missionaries serve a minimum of four years. About one-fourth (121) of these missions have one to five missionaries! About 300 of the missions have 50 missionaries or fewer. Praise God for these small missions which have not let size keep them from moving forward in faith with evangelism, discipleship, and development to the masses of the world to the glory of God!

ACTION is a relatively mid-size mission of 250 members serving in 25 countries. Of the 440 international sending missions, there are 32 larger than ACTION (two at 251 to 300 missionaries, eight at 301 to 400 missionaries, eight at 401 to 600, eight at 601 to 1000, four at 1001 to 2000, none at 2001 to 3000, and two at 3000 to 4000).

The Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA) was formed for organizations (not missions) in the USA. Instead of membership in ECFA, many missions are members of Cross Global Link (formerly Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association) or The Mission Exchange (formerly Evangelical Foreign Mission Association). ACTION follows the same financial guidelines as these mission networks and is also a member of the Christian Leadership Alliance, the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC), the Evangelical Alliance (UK), and the World Evangelical Association (WEA).

Most missions have not joined ECFA for several reasons: 1) it is not needed as most missions already follow ECFA guidelines, 2) all missions already have a reputable board of directors, 3) it is expensive and thus diverts funds from ministries to ECFA fees, when the donors have given for specific purposes, and 4) it is the responsibility of the board of directors to oversee the mission. Being a member of ECFA does not guarantee financial accountability; that is the role of the board.

Under the laws of the USA and Canada, each mission has a governing board of directors which enforces guidelines of operation and use of funds as required.

Some have asked why ACTION is not a member of ECFA. There are several reasons (as listed above), but one reason is how ECFA allows some of its members to use finances. For example, “. . . 30.9 percent of ECFA members spend more than 25 percent of their income on fundraising. Four members were above 50 percent, and two exceeded 70 percent” [Christianity Today editorial, May 12, 2004]. This use of funds would be completely unacceptable to donors or its trustees.

ACTION’s annual report, financial statements, independent audit, and Form 990 are available to the public on request. Specific questions are always welcome and responded to individually by the USA Director or Lead accountant.

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